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Spring in Virginia

Winter took a long time this year to loosen its grip—only five or six weeks ago we were shoveling snow—but we are currently enjoying a spectacular spring in Virginia. While this perfection lasts, we wanted to get some thoughts on spring in the Commonwealth from Ben Greenberg, photographer and author of Natural Virginia, a collection of his stunning panoramic photography. Ben is uniquely qualified to appreciate the particular qualities of spring in Virginia. He writes:

I have two favorite seasons of the year: spring and fall. It is pretty obvious why I enjoy fall but one might be surprised why I consider spring the more exciting and surprising season, the one I look forward to more than any other.

There is no doubt that my love for spring is at least partially due to my response to winter, which only seems to excite me when there is a snowfall that turns the natural environment into a visual wonderland. When the more common bleak and cold winter gives rise to the beginning of spring, I can feel all of my senses literally wake up and respond, especially my vision. I find it fascinating to view the process of spring, from buds on the branches to early colors that rival those of fall to the various shades of what I call “spring green” of leaves of every description. The constant changes of spring create significant challenges and demands. I work hard to respond to the changes to capture dramatic photographs with images that excite and motivate me.

Every stage of the emerging spring fascinates me. I never tire of viewing the process of the world around me literally coming to life. I enjoy the process of spring arriving first in the valleys and lower elevations and then watching it climb the hills and mountains until it arrives at the highest elevations as much as a month later. This process gives me many opportunities to capture moving and colorful images of the world around me throughout Virginia. I also become aware at such times that elevations around the state sometimes surprise you in how they impact the timing of spring, especially in the Shenandoah Valley and in Southwest Virginia where normal elevations rival those of the mountains.

I also love to photograph water in every form and location in which we find it: rivers, lakes, streams, oceans, ponds, and surf at the beaches. The attraction of waterfowl to water makes my opportunities to photograph it even more interesting. The activity of waterfowl in spring, especially around nest building and babies, provides new and challenging photographic opportunities, ones that couldn’t be any more different than landscape photography. My attraction in recent years to photographing waterfowl has increased with every season, including spring.

Waterfalls are particularly interesting in spring. While I enjoy photographing them at other times of the year, it is in spring that waterfalls have more water as a result of the winter and spring precipitation. This contrasts with the greatly reduced flow in fall due to the drier conditions of summer. The increased flow in spring sometimes creates unusual photographic opportunities with heavy mists created around the increased falls. It is also true of the flow of rivers.

It is always disappointing to me when I realize that the spring greens are turning to the sameness of summertime green that surrounds us in every possible way. The photography of spring ends and one is then faced with the challenges of summertime photography.

More of Ben Greenberg's photography may be found here. Read more about the book Natural Virginia here.

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